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Trends in Sentencing and Corrections: State Legislation

NCJ Number
Alison Lawrence
Date Published
July 2013
16 pages
This report examines trends in State sentencing and corrections legislation.
This report by the National Council of State Legislators examines trends in State sentencing and corrections legislation. One of the common features noticed in these trends is the use of cross-governmental planning. This type of planning involves stakeholders in all branches and at all levels of government. Another trend involves the use of justice reinvestment strategies in which funds are reallocated to support effective sentencing and corrections policies. Other changes involve diverting appropriate offenders to treatment, the use of programs that focus on the mental health needs of defendants, and a reduction in sentences for inmates that successfully complete reentry programs. Sentencing trends include the re-examination of who goes to prison and for how long, the increased use of non-prison sanctions, the diversion of low-level drug offenders into community supervision and treatment, relaxing mandatory minimum sentencing rules, the adjustment of drug penalty thresholds and classifications, and the adjustment of felony threshold amounts. Another trend by States involves requiring corrections agencies to employ policies and programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism among recently released offenders. In addition, some States have established a performance incentive funding mechanism whereby localities are reimbursed for successfully supervising certain offenders in the community as opposed to sending them to prison. The report also looks at trends in States' response to: probation and parole violations, addressing offender needs, and release and reentry policies. Figures and appendix